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SurvCost: Estimating the Cost of Surveillance

SurvCost is a spreadsheet-based tool developed to aid public health officials to estimate the cost of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) systems at national, region/province, district, and health facility levels.

SurvCost estimates the costs of seven categories of resources: personnel, office operating items, transportation, laboratory materials and supplies, treatment and programmatic response items, media or public awareness campaigns, and capital items. The estimates of costs-by-category will allow surveillance system managers to better understand the resources required to operate IDSR systems.

SurvCost may also be of use to managers of other disease surveillance systems who wish to estimate their costs.

SurvCost Example


The graph above is an example of the summary data that can be produced by SurvCost. The graph depicts an example of a “cost profile” of IDSR, showing the percent that each category of resource contributes to the total cost of IDSR.

Minimum System Requirements:

  • Windows* operating system (MS Windows 2000 or newer)
  • Microsoft Excel (MS Office 2000 or newer)
  • 486 Pentium processor and 500 MB RAM
  • 4 MB of hard drive storage space

* MS Windows and Office is a copyrighted product produced by Microsoft Corporation, WA. Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Instructions for Downloading:

Before loading and starting SurvCost, you must change Excel's security level as described below:

  • Open a blank Excel spreadsheet.
  • Click Tools and then click Macro, choose Security
  • Set Security Level to Medium.
  • Click OK. You are now ready to open SurvCost (once you have downloaded the program – see below).
  • Double click to open SurvCost file.
  • When asked to Disable Macros or Enable Macros, click Enable Macros.

A more detailed description of changing the security levels can be found in the SurvCost manual (available for downloading, below)

Downloading the Files:

*We recommend downloading and saving the SurvCost Spreadsheet to your computer, and then open the spreadsheet from your computer. This will allow the spreadsheet to open in Excel instead of your web browser.


The numbers generated through SurvCost should be treated as estimates rather than considered as actual or true costs of a surveillance system and IDSR program. Not all potential scenarios in terms of economic costs could be included in this model.

The methodology, findings and conclusions presented in this manual and in the accompanying tool are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

  • Page last reviewed: January 25, 2012
  • Page last updated: January 25, 2012
  • Content source: Global Health
  • Notice: Linking to a non-federal site does not constitute an endorsement by HHS, CDC or any of its employees of the sponsors or the information and products presented on the site. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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